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New Screen Time Guidelines for Kids, Again

Media guidelines for kidsAs if we all didn’t feel crappy enough about the hours and minutes our kids spend watching TV (or playing on their Leap Pad/iPad/Xbox), pediatricians are back with new and improved screen time guidelines for kids.

And yes, we’re still screwing up.

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) released a statement in the journal Pediatrics on October 28, stating that children should have less than two hours of entertainment-based screen time each day, with no TV or Internet access in their bedrooms.

How off track are we? According to those peds, the average 8-year-old spends 8 hours a day in front of a screen of some sort, and — as you can imagine — that number climbs with age.

But there’s a silver lining, you guys!

The AAP is finally recognizing that there is some benefit to kids + media — meaning it’s not all slowly rotting their teeny tiny brains into slime. Shows that teach kids (a la Sesame Street) can have a real benefit, and that’s where I breathe a sigh of relief. Because I swear certain television shows and movies have done more good than bad for my 4 year old. He doesn’t just sit there like a drooling lump, shoveling handfuls of popcorn into his mouth with zombie eyes. He engages and sings and laughs and learns. And have you ever watched a little kid navigate a (child-appropriate) video game? (I’m continuously blown away by my son’s ability to work a controller and strategize a game, with little to no direction.)

In fact, when I asked my 4-year-old son why he likes watching TV — like Jake and the Neverland Pirates — he said, and I quote:

“Because I know playing is good, right? And so every time I finish watching something, I just want to go run and play [with toys]. I just go — SNAP! — into playtime.”

So BOOM, AAP.

While I’m grateful for the guidelines (8 hours in front of a screen is a bit bananas), it’s all about balance and content. It’s all about common sense.

Finally the experts are realizing that technology isn’t inherently evil, nor is it going anywhere. And I’ll take their “2-hour rule” as a conservative guideline, given no illnesses, way-too-early mornings, or stressful dinner-cooking chaos. That seems balanced.

See more of the AAP’s new media guidelines at LiveScience.

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